President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday announced an 18 per cent rise in the minimum wage.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions had requested for a 22 per cent increase in basic pay, citing inflation which has constantly been increasing.

The president said progress to build a prosperous economy to allow Kenyans earn decent living was on course. He underlined current efforts in road construction, lowering barriers to trade, quality education as some of the strategies. The President urged employers to ensure workers are safe and said State will soon embark on inspection of safety at work place to ensure compliance.

The President also increased non-taxable bonuses and overtime to Sh100,000.

He proclaimed the increases during Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.

In addition, President Kenyatta directed Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed to convene a meeting with employers “to explore measures to cushion them from costs associated with non-labour factors.”

“I understand that you want to have more disposable income to be able to meet your families’ needs. I am aware the workers on the lower income bracket are struggling to afford basic necessities. It is not fair that they should be taxed heavily,” said the President.

He said Kenya has one of the best pools of skilled workers in the world, adding that is why many Kenyans have found jobs overseas.

He said a majority have positive experiences but there are those who have fallen into risky employment where their rights have been abused.

The President said the government has streamlined the registration and management of foreign employment agencies.

“I strongly urge every Kenyan going abroad to use the approved agencies. You should also make sure that you register at the Kenyan embassy serving the foreign country you are in,” said President Kenyatta.

He said his government has been keen to enable workers to know their rights under the law and has worked closely with the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) and the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) to undertake the initiative.

“Together with COTU and FKE, we have developed a mobile labour law application that can be accessed online and on phones,” said the President.